Springtime and the risk of suicide

I have published two previous blogs about the increased risk of suicide in springtime; I have revised those blogs so that this blog contains new facts and information, which I have learned since I published those previous versions.

You may wonder why I feel so strongly about suicide, that I need to publish a blog about it every year.  The answer is quite simple; I am a suicide survivor.  Almost fifty-two years ago, which was a lifetime ago for me; I tried to take my own life and failed.  I can still remember what brought me to the point where I no longer wanted to live, and how I felt when I learned that I had failed, which I can assure you was not euphoric.  In fact, I felt worse than I did before I tried to take my own life; I felt I was an abject failure, because I could not destroy the one thing over which I thought I had total control, and ownership.  I do not know how I got through those feelings, but have never been more grateful and thankful that I did; those words do not seem powerful enough to express how gratified I feel that I failed.  I have lived, and am living a good and mostly happy life; I have met some wonderful people, and made some fantastic friends.  I would have missed all of this if my suicide attempt had been successful.

It is early April, and we at Mind in Somerset have already taken more crisis calls, and calls about suicide than we normally do in any other season of the year.  People who are having suicidal thoughts or seriously thinking of taking their lives, or suffering a mental health crisis make these calls, and occasionally, by some who are actually in the process of taking their life.  We also have had calls from people who are concerned that a loved one, friend or associate may be considering suicide, and they are not sure what to do.

Contrary to popular belief, suicide-rates rise in spring and early summer (April, May and June) in the Northern Hemisphere, and not winter, as many believe.  There are many reasons for this, far too many to list here; but three of the reasons given are;

  • the increase in daylight hours, where days can seem to stretch on forever with no end in sight
  • the increase in social interaction compared to the relative voluntary seclusion experienced in winter
  • and the fact that the majority of the population tend to feel more optimistic and act more optimistically in springtime, for those going through a mental health crisis this highlights how ‘different’ they feel

What are the signs that someone may be feeling suicidal?

  • they complain of feelings of hopelessness
  • have episodes of sudden rage and anger
  • act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the consequences
  • talk about feeling trapped, such as saying they can’t see any way out of their current situation
  • Self-harm – including misusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do.  Although it should be noted that some people use self-harming as a coping mechanism, and they do not intend to take their lives.  If you or someone you know self-harms please contact, or get them to contact Harmless, a national charity for those who self-harm
  • become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general
  • appear anxious and agitated
  • are unable to sleep or they sleep all the time
  • have sudden mood swings – a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide
  • talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose
  • giving away their possessions
  • lose interest in most things, including their appearance
  • put their affairs in order, such as sorting out possessions or making a will
  • please note that there are times where no signs will be obvious

What can I do to help?

One of the best things you can do if you think someone may be feeling suicidal is to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to listen to what they say.

Talking about someone’s problems is not always easy and it may be tempting to try to provide a solution.  However, often the most important thing you can do to help; is to listen to what they have to say.

If there is an immediate danger, call an ambulance and make sure, that they are not left on their own.

Do not judge

It is also important not to make judgements about how a person is thinking and behaving.  You may feel that certain aspects of their thinking and behaviour are making their problems worse.  For example, they may be drinking too much alcohol, or have stopped socialising.

However, pointing this out will not be particularly helpful to them.  Reassurance, respect and support can help someone during these difficult periods.

Ask questions

Asking questions can be a useful way of letting a person remain in control while allowing them to talk about how they are feeling.  Try not to influence what the person says, but give them the opportunity to talk honestly and openly.

Open ended questions such as “Where did that happen?” and “How did that feel?” will encourage them to talk, it is best to avoid statements that could possibly end the conversation, such as “I know how you feel” and “Try not to worry about it”.

If you suspect someone may be at risk of suicide, it is important to ask him or her directly about suicidal thoughts.  Do not avoid using the word ‘suicide’.  It is important to ask the question without dread, and without expressing a negative judgment.  The question must be direct and to the point.  For example, you could ask:

  • “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or
  • “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”

Remember; if you feel that someone may be about to take their life, you MUST call an ambulance.  It is far better to save a life by taking action, than it is to lose a life through hesitation, or taking no action.

After the crisis has passed and the person is safe, get help and support for yourself, this very important because talking to someone who is suicidal will be emotionally and physically exhausting.  You will need to voice your feelings to someone you trust.  

Useful Numbers:

Samaritans: 116 123    24 hrs National

Mindline: 01823 276 892   8pm till 11pm – Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sunday Somerset

Mindline Trans+ 0300 330 5468   Mondays and Fridays from 8pm to midnight National

Mindline South Devon and Torbay 0300 330 5464    8pm till 11pm – Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun

LGBT+ helpline 0300 330 0630               10am-10pm every day National

 

Chris Rugg aka Wurzelmeone

 

 

 

 

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Springtime and the risk of suicide reminder

I first published this blog in June of last year; because we are approaching the three peak months for suicide, I felt that it would be worth publishing it again to raise awareness of that fact.

You will see in the blog below that we called an ambulance for two of our callers; I must point out that we checked with both callers that they were okay with us calling an ambulance.  They both agreed with that course of action, however, if they had not agreed, then we would not have called an ambulance, but we would have continued listening to and talking with the caller.

You may wonder why I feel so strongly about suicide.  The answer is quite simple; I am a suicide survivor.  Almost fifty-one years ago, I tried to take my own life and failed.  I can still remember what brought me to the point where I no longer wanted to live, and how I felt when I learned that I had failed, which I can assure you was not euphoric.  In fact, I felt worse than I did before I tried to take my own life; I felt I was an abject failure, because I could not destroy the one thing that I had total control, and ownership of.  Somehow, I got through those feelings, and have never been more grateful and thankful; those words do not seem powerful enough to express how I feel, that I did fail.  I have lived, and am living a good and mostly happy life that I would have missed if my suicide attempt had been successful.

 

15th June 2017

Over the last three weeks, we, Mind in Taunton and West Somerset, have taken more calls about suicide than we normally have in three months.  These calls were made by people who were having suicidal thoughts or seriously thinking of taking their lives, and two who were actually in the process of taking their life; for the last two we called an ambulance.  We also have had calls from people who were concerned that a loved one, friend or associate may be considering suicide, and they were not sure what to do.

Contrary to popular belief, suicide-rates rise in spring and early summer (April, May and June) in the Northern Hemisphere, and not winter, as many believe.  There are many reasons for this, far too many to list here; but two of the reasons given are; the increase in daylight hours, where days can seem to stretch on forever with no end in sight, and the increase in social interaction compared to the relative voluntary seclusion experienced in winter.

What are the signs that someone is feeling suicidal?

  • they complain of feelings of hopelessness
  • have episodes of sudden rage and anger
  • act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the consequences
  • talk about feeling trapped, such as saying they can’t see any way out of their current situation
  • self-harm – including misusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do.  Although it should be noted that some people use self-harming as a coping mechanism, and they do not intend to take their lives
  • become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general
  • appear anxious and agitated
  • are unable to sleep or they sleep all the time
  • have sudden mood swings – a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide
  • talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose
  • giving away their possessions
  • lose interest in most things, including their appearance
  • put their affairs in order, such as sorting out possessions or making a will

What can I do to help?

One of the best things you can do if you think someone may be feeling suicidal is to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to listen to what they say.

Talking about someone’s problems is not always easy and it may be tempting to try to provide a solution.  However, often the most important thing you can do to help; is to listen to what they have to say.

If there is an immediate danger, call an ambulance and make sure, they are not left on their own.

Do not judge

It is also important not to make judgements about how a person is thinking and behaving.  You may feel that certain aspects of their thinking and behaviour are making their problems worse.  For example, they may be drinking too much alcohol.

However, pointing this out will not be particularly helpful to them.  Reassurance, respect and support can help someone during these difficult periods.

Ask questions

Asking questions can be a useful way of letting a person remain in control while allowing them to talk about how they are feeling.  Try not to influence what the person says, but give them the opportunity to talk honestly and openly.

Open ended questions such as “Where did that happen?” and “How did that feel?” will encourage them to talk, it is best to avoid statements that could possibly end the conversation, such as “I know how you feel” and “Try not to worry about it”.

If you suspect someone may be at risk of suicide, it is important to ask him or her directly about suicidal thoughts.  Do not avoid using the word ‘suicide’.  It is important to ask the question without dread, and without expressing a negative judgment.  The question must be direct and to the point.  For example, you could ask:

  • “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or
  • “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”

Remember; if you feel that someone may be about to take their life, you MUST call an ambulance.  It is far better to save a life by taking action, than it is to lose a life through hesitation, or taking no action.

After the crisis has passed and the person is safe, get help and support for yourself.

Useful Numbers:

Samaritans: 116 123    24 hrs National

Mindline: 01823 276 892   8pm till 11pm – Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sunday Somerset

Mindline Trans+ 0300 330 5468   Mondays and Fridays from 8pm to midnight National

Mindline South Devon and Torbay 0300 330 5464    8pm till 11pm – Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun

LGBT+ helpline 0300 330 0630               10am-10pm every day National

If you have any questions please ring Mind TWS   01823 334 906 10am – 4pm Mon-Fri

 

 

 

Posted in Communication, Conversation, Depression, Desperation, Escape, Friends, Helplines, Judgement, Listening, Mental Health, mental illness, Sadness, Springtime, Stigma, Suicide, Suicide Awareness, Support, Talking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Springtime and the risk of suicide

I realise that Spring is nearly over, and that suicide attempts will fall, but that does not mean that they will cease.  Suicides take place 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, which is why I feel that everyone should be able to recognise the warning signs of suicide, and know how to help those who may be about to take their life.

Over the last three weeks, we, Mind in Taunton and West Somerset, have taken more calls about suicide than we normally have in three months. These calls were made by people who were having suicidal thoughts or seriously thinking of taking their lives, and two who were actually in the process of taking their life; for the last two we called an ambulance. We also have had calls from people who were concerned that a loved one, friend or associate may be considering suicide, and they were not sure what to do.

Contrary to popular belief, suicide-rates rise in spring and early summer (April, May and June) and not winter, as many believe. There are many reasons for this, far too many to list here; but two of the reasons given are; the increase in daylight hours, and the increase in social interaction compared to the relative voluntary seclusion experienced in winter.

What are the signs that someone is feeling suicidal?

• they complain of feelings of hopelessness
• have episodes of sudden rage and anger
• act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the          consequences
• talk about feeling trapped, such as saying they can’t see any way out of their current              situation
self-harm – including misusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do.           Although it should be noted that some people use self-harming as a coping mechanism,       and they do not intend to take their lives
• become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general
• appear anxious and agitated
• are unable to sleep or they sleep all the time
• have sudden mood swings – a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could            indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide
• talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose
• giving away their possessions
• lose interest in most things, including their appearance
• put their affairs in order, such as sorting out possessions or making a will

What can I do to help?

One of the best things you can do if you think someone may be feeling suicidal is to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to listen to what they say.

Talking about someone’s problems is not always easy and it may be tempting to try to provide a solution. However, often the most important thing you can do to help is to listen to what they have to say.

If there is an immediate danger, call an ambulance and make sure, they are not left on their own.

Do not judge

It is also important not to make judgements about how a person is thinking and behaving. You may feel that certain aspects of their thinking and behaviour are making their problems worse. For example, they may be drinking too much alcohol.

However, pointing this out will not be particularly helpful to them. Reassurance, respect and support can help someone during these difficult periods.

Ask questions

Asking questions can be a useful way of letting a person remain in control while allowing them to talk about how they are feeling. Try not to influence what the person says, but give them the opportunity to talk honestly and openly.

Open ended questions such as “Where did that happen?” and “How did that feel?” will encourage them to talk, it is best to avoid statements that could possibly end the conversation, such as “I know how you feel” and “Try not to worry about it”.

If you suspect someone may be at risk of suicide, it is important to ask him or her directly about suicidal thoughts. Do not avoid using the word ‘suicide’. It is important to ask the question without dread, and without expressing a negative judgment. The question must be direct and to the point. For example, you could ask:

• “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or
• “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”

Remember; if you feel that someone may be about to take their life, you MUST call an ambulance. It is far better to save a life by taking action, than it is to lose a life through hesitation, or taking no action.


After the crisis has passed and the person is safe, get help and support for yourself.

Note: Much of this information has come from NHS choices Warning signs of suicide

Useful Numbers:

Samaritans: 116 123 24 hrs National

Mindline: 01823 276 892 8pm till 11pm – Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sunday Somerset

Mindline Trans+ 0300 330 5468 Mondays and Fridays from 8pm to midnight South West

Mindline South Devon and Torbay 0300 330 5464 8pm till 11pm – Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun

LGBT+ helpline 0300 330 0630 10am-10pm every day National

If you have any questions please ring Mind TWS 01823 334 906 10am – 4pm Mon-Fri

Posted in Communication, Conversation, Depression, Desperation, Exhaustion, Fatigue, Guilt, Judgement, Mental Health, mental illness, Sadness, Stigma, Suicide, Support, Talking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things Someone Should Have Told Me

This is not my blog, but I feel that it should be read by as many people as possible, because it shows, indeed highlights much of what we as mental health advocates see happening in our own CMHT. Tom has hit the nail on the head with what he says here.

Go With That

I started seeing my first community mental health clients three years ago. On the day that I met my first clients at my internship, I was immediately aware that no part of my graduate education (or my life) prepared me to work with clients this unwell. My fellow interns were similarly shocked. My internship was an exercise in endurance. I survived, but the way I survived cost me something. Despite the fact that several prior generations of therapist have made this journey, I struggled to find resources to help me make sense of what I was seeing and experiencing. Is it this severe everywhere? When will I start to feel like I know what I’m doing? Wait, what am I doing? How can my clients get better? Is “better” even the right word? I feel like I am going crazy… is this normal? I resolved that if I ever found…

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The Spider and Depression

 

spider-plugholeEarlier this evening I found a spider in my kitchen sink, so I caught the spider and put it on a bush outside.  The following blog is a very short blog of the thoughts, which that spider prompted.

When a spider is trapped in a sink it can only go round and round, it cannot climb the walls because they are too steep and shiny.  All it can do is keep on going round and round, until it is exhausted.  It is the same when you have depression, this time the walls of your depression are too steep and shiny to climb, and all you can do is keep going round and round in your head until you too, are exhausted.  In the end, both the spider and the person who has depression are so desperate, that they will do anything to escape.  The only way out for the spider is to follow the water down the plughole, and the person who has depression can feel that their only option is to follow their feelings down a metaphorical plughole.  Both of these escape routes can lead to the possible demise of the spider, and the person who has depression.

The outlook for the spider is pretty grim.  Fortunately, for those who have depression or any other mental illness things do not have to get as bleak as the scenario painted above; there is help available.  Your first port of call should be your GP or Family Doctor; they are the gateway to specialist treatment and therapy.  If you have any problems in getting a diagnosis or treatment, contact your local Mind and ask them, what Mental Health Advocacy Services are available in your area?  You will be able to find your local Mind contact details by clicking on the following link Mind in your area.

There are also numerous helplines and text services that offer help; the following list gives just a few of those available in the UK:

Sane Mental Health Helpline national helpline open 365 days a year from 6 pm to 11 pm: 0300 304 7000 for those over 16

Sane Textcare for those over 16

Samaritans 24 hour helpline 116 123

SupportLine Telephone Helpline 01708 765200 –email info@supportline.org.uk

Confidential emotional support to Children Young People and Adults

Association for Post Natal Illness on 020 7386 0868 Website www.apni.org

Calmzone: National 0800 585858 – London 0808 802 5858 www.thecalmzone.net

Campaign Against Living Miserably. Help and support for young men aged 15-35 on issues, which include depression and suicide

Childline:  0800 1111 (24 hours)

www.childline.org.uk | online chat | message boards

Childline is the UK’s free helpline for children and young people. It provides confidential telephone counselling service for any child with a problem. It comforts, advises and protects

LGBT Foundation A charity offering mental health services and resources to the gay community: this includes a national support helpline.

Helpline: 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am until 10pm Monday to Friday, and 10am until 6pm Saturday

Email: helpline@lgbt.foundation support within 72 hours

Chris Rugg

28th September 2016

Posted in Depression, Desperation, Escape, Exhaustion, Fatigue, Mental Health, Mental Health Advocacy, mental illness, Plughole, Rehabilitation, Spider | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A cry for help?

 

When someone tries to take his or her life, and for some reason, whatever reason, is unsuccessful.  It is a traumatic experience not only for them, but also for their family and friends when they realise that they so nearly lost someone who they love, respect and need; most will rally round, and try to give whatever support and care is needed to bring their loved one back to their old self.  But not all, when someone decides that suicide is their only option, they may have already sought help from everyone they love and trust; partners, wives, husbands, siblings, close friends, doctors etc. etc.  Sadly, (in a few cases) they find that some of these ‘trusted’ people, superficial friends, are not interested, or will come up with trite sentiments such as ‘Come on get a life, you’ve got so much to live for’ or ‘I didn’t realise you were having problems, come on let’s get drunk’.  By now, they have probably tried every avenue available; often including drink or drugs, and they can be so desperate that they see suicide as the only option.  If a person really wants to live, they are not going to risk their life by taking an overdose of drugs, or threatening to throw themselves off a high building, because they may well kill themselves by accident.  So usually, when someone attempts suicide it is a deliberate attempt to take his or her life – not ‘A cry for help’.

After someone has tried to take their life and not succeeded, there can be the slow realisation that they are still alive when they should be dead.  There is no Eureka moment where they jump with joy; instead, there is a feeling of abject failure because they could not use that one last power they thought they had; the ability to take their own life away.

I work as a mental health advocate for Bridging the Gap at Mind in Taunton & West Somerset, and in the course of my work, I meet quite a few survivors of suicide, as clients, telephone callers or drop-ins.  I have also talked with four people by telephone as they were attempting to take their lives, they all called to say what they were doing and why they were doing it, two of them said how they felt the services had let them down.  I remember one lady in particular, who had called from out of county, and lived in a remote moorland cottage.  She had just started taking a mixture of Diazepam and Morphine, and was taking them while we were talking.  I asked her the usual questions name, address, and telephone number, she then went on to tell me why she was doing what she was doing.  By this time, I had asked a colleague to dial 999 and to get the police and an ambulance there as quickly as possible.  Back to the caller, when I asked if she had considered her local Crisis Team, she left me in no doubt as to what she thought of them and went on to explain that she had had a bad experience with them, and did not feel able to trust them anymore.  We carried on talking until I spoke to one of the paramedics one hour and twenty minutes later, by which time the lady was barely conscious.  Just so, you know, I checked with her hospital the next day and was very pleased to hear that she had survived.  My thoughts now are; if there had been a Suicide Crisis Centre in her county, she could possibly have avoided going through this awful experience.

Why am I writing this now?

Recently Joy Hibbins the founder of Suicide Crisis in Cheltenham, Gloucester has written a blog called “Please Don’t Call Us ‘Difficult to Engage’” in which she describes not only her own experience of statutory services and why they are not always able to give the support needed, but also gives the reasons why she has set up Suicide Crisis.  She has also written an article for The Independent, which tells us how Suicide Crisis has developed since she set it up.  After reading both her blog and the article, and comparing the experience of my own clients and callers, I came to realise how much we need a Suicide Crisis Centre in Somerset.

Chris Rugg

31st July 2016

Here are some links, which you may find useful if you need to talk, or have been affected by the suicide of someone close to you:

Mindline Somerset 01823 276 892 8pm till 11pm – Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sunday

Mindline South Devon and Torbay 0300 330 5464 8pm till 11pm – Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sunday

Somerset Suicide Bereavement Support

Helpline open 24 hours a day

 0300 330 5463

 bereaved@mindtws.org.uk 

We run a monthly Suicide Bereavement peer support group, click here to find out more.

Somerset Suicide Bereavement Support Service is available to anyone bereaved by suicide in Somerset.

Read more about us and what we do

Posted in Depression, Desperation, Judgement, Mental Health, mental illness, Prejudice, Stigma, Suicide, Support | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shall I; shan’t I

sardinesShall I; shan’t I, were the words going through my head as I stood in front of the tinned sardines in tomato sauce? I was doing my weekly shop at the local supermarket, and by pure accident, I was walking past the shelves stacked with tinned sardines. There were all sorts there: sardines in olive oil, sardines in brine, sardines with lemon, grilled sardines; in fact sardines in or with whatever you fancied. However, the only ones I could not take my eyes off were the sardines in tomato sauce.

Why this dilemma you may well ask. I am a vegetarian and I do not eat meat or any food derived from living creatures, I find even the smell of raw meat repulsive, yet for some reason I do like fish. I will freely admit to buying salmon and prawn pie, smoked haddock and prawns in the past, but my excuse for this is that they were impulse buys, and they were all screaming “EAT ME!” at me. I therefore did not feel too guilty when I eat and enjoyed them.

The root of this quandary was a conversation in the office when we were talking about food that we used to enjoy, but had not had for a long time. Someone mentioned sardines in tomato sauce on toast, as soon as it was mentioned it my mouth started to water, it was also something I used to love, but had totally forgotten. I even said, “I’ll get some on the way home”, and then I remembered that I am a vegetarian, “Damn!”

I have been tempted to buy some sardines ever since that conversation. The dilemma was caused because this time there was no rush of blood to my head leading to an impulse buy. This would be pre-planned purchase. Eventually, I said, “Shall” and bought the damned sardines. They were delicious, on toast with loads of butter and light sprinkling of Black Pepper. Do I feel guilty – will I buy them again? Yes to both, I think I can live with the guilt.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Guilt, Impulse, Living, Memories, Sardines, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment